September 12, 2004
Is Bill Burkett a reliable source?By Steve Gilbert
With the media's latest iteration of President Bush's National Guard story, Lt. Col. Bill Burkett has once again managed to insert himself into the news.
This article from the September 12th issue of Newsweek is typical of the latest crop:
NEWSWEEK: A Principal Source for Network's Bush National Guard Story Was Disgruntled Former Guard Officer Sunday September 12, 11:22 am ET
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UPDATE: Drudge and the Washington Post report that markings on the CBS documents indicate they were faxed from a Kinko's in Abilene, Texas, where Burkett had a standing account.
News mavens will perhaps recall that Lt. Col. Burkett first made the papers more than four years ago at the start of George Bush's first campaign, when he alleged that he had personally witnessed Bush's National Guard records being removed from the files and destroyed.
Retired Guard officer says he saw some files discarded in trash — Dallas Morning News
The White House released records Tuesday to buttress the president's assertion that he fulfilled his military duty during the Vietnam War, but it faced new questions about whether George W. Bush's file was altered before his 2000 presidential race.
Retired National Guard Lt. Col. Bill Burkett said Tuesday that in 1997, then—Gov. Bush's chief of staff, Joe Allbaugh, told the National Guard chief to get the Bush file and make certain "there's not any—thing there that will embarrass the governor."
Mr. Burkett said that a few days later at Camp Mabry in Austin, he saw Mr. Bush's file and docu—ments from it discarded in a trash can. He said he recognized the documents as retirement point summaries and pay forms.
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This article from CNN being fairly representative:
CNN.com — Guardsman says he saw Bush's Guard records in trash ...
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Weirdly, Burkett's almost immediate retraction was only noted by a handful of online websites, such as The Online Journal:
Burkett says he wasn't pointing a finger, but trying to get Bush to release the pertinent documents in his military records
November 5, 2000—Texas National Guard Lt. Colonel (retired) Bill Burkett, in providing clarifications to published reports, says he was not pointing fingers but raising the question of whether Gov. George W. Bush, his aides, and other Guard officers were merely incompetent in their handling of Bush's military records and trying to get Bush to order the release of the pertinent records: his payroll and retirement records, which would settle the question of whether he fulfilled his military obligation.
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Burkett's retraction and denials in 2000 did not stop him from regurgitating the story for a new audience three years later, when a new election season was starting up. Here the retired Colonel ex—presses himself succinctly to the ultra left site, Indymedia:
Bush S***s On Guardsman
by Bill Burkett
I had been 'loaned' from the senior staff and state planning officer of the Texas National Guard to the Department of the Army for a series of these special projects after angering George W. Bush by re—fusing to falsify readiness information and reports; confronting a fraudulent funding scheme which kept 'ghost' soldiers on the books for additional funding, and refusing to alter official personnel re—cords [of George W. Bush]...
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In fact, Burkett regularly portrayed himself as a martyr for refusing to follow the orders to destroy Bush's incriminating records. He even instituted a lawsuit against his officers in the Texas National Guard for their mean treatment of him.
Burkett describes his ordeal in excrutiating detail in an article he scribed for the ultra left Veterans For Peace:
VETERANS FOR PEACE
What do you say?
March 19, 2003—I've sat in total grief for the past three years, watching the institutions of America being spent as if they were lottery winnings.
I don't want to say it, "But I told you so."
In January of 1998 and what seems like a full lifetime ago, I was stricken by a deadly case of menin—goencephalitis. I was returning from a short duty trip to Panama as a team chief to inspect the hand over of Ft. Clayton to the Panamanians. I had been 'loaned' from the senior staff and state planning officer of the Texas National Guard to the Department of the Army for a series of these special pro—jects after angering George W. Bush by refusing to falsify readiness information and reports; con—fronting a fraudulent funding scheme which kept 'ghost' soldiers on the books for additional funding, and refusing to alter official personnel records [of George W. Bush].
George W. Bush and his lieutenants were mad. They ordered that I not be accessed to emergency medical care services, healthcare benefits I earned by my official duty; and I was withheld from medical care for 154 days before I was withdrawn from Texas responsibility by the Department of the Army, by order of the White House.
I was a pawn then caught in a struggle for right and wrong, but also caught within a political struggle between a man who would do anything to be 'king' of America and an institution of laws that we knew as America.
For five years, I have fought my battles around two fronts; the personal retaliation that was waged against me and the individual organizational unlawful acts and practices waged against our institu—tions.
But I first had to survive. Without a single bit of help, contact and in spite of threats against my life and that of my family, I have had to relearn to walk and to live. My daily pain is far worse than any—thing I could have previously imagined. I suffer from extreme constant headaches, body pain and even my hair hurts. I now have a severe seizure disorder which we are starting to gain slight control over...
The only benefits that we have received have come at the end of a court order; and they have been under constant challenge. Needless to say, we know the White House counsel personally. We know Dan Bartlett, Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, Don Evans, and many others very personally. Dick Che—ney used to be a close friend. No longer...
(Lt. Col. Bill Burkett completed 28 years of decorated service and was medically retired from the US Army National Guard in 1998 after suffering meningoencephalitis on return from an assignment in Panama. From 1995 until his illness, Burkett served as State Plans Officer for the Texas Army Na—tional Guard and Governor George W. Bush. After refusing to follow direct orders involving falsifying readiness reports, Burkett sought "whistleblower" status for reports involving anti—Semitic activity; personnel fraud; readiness fraud and the alteration of the personal military file of Governor George W. Bush. Lt. Col. Burkett is currently the plaintiff in his appeal to the US Supreme Court in the case of Burkett v. Goodwin, Taliaferro, Meador, et al, in regard to the retaliation against him following breaking the Bush records issue. Lt. Col Burkett served as a War Plans Officer during Operation De—sert Storm and functioned as a senior trainer in conducting simulations exercises for deploying troops.)
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Here is a synopsis of the outcome of the aforementioned appeal to the US Supreme Court in the case of Burkett v. Goodwin, Taliaferro, Meador, et al:
Description: Bill Burkett, a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Texas Army National Guard, brought a personal injury action against appellees, William Goodwin, Jackie Taliaferro, and Archie Meador, all of whom were his superior officers. (1) Burkett appeals from the trial court's order dismissing his law—suit...
Burkett alleged that over the next four months Goodwin, Taliaferro and Meador willfully and maliciously refused to provide Dyess with clearance or confirmation of his duty status thereby denying him access to military medical care. Burkett alleged that these three individuals' conduct was "so completely beyond and outside any military authority or discretion as to have been outside the scope of military duty, outside any military duty, outside any military capacity, and not incident to military duty." Burkett alleged that they "acted purely as individuals, not as military officers, albeit pretending to have military authority and abusing their offices through such pretense in order to willfully and maliciously wreak havoc upon [Burkett's] life."
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The above excerpts are the result of a fairly cursory Googling of Bill Burkett's online record. Yet such vaunted journalistic institutions as CBS News and the Boston Globe with their vast resources for vetting people have for more than four years considered him a reliable source for their articles attacking George Bush.
Any port in a storm, I guess.